After six months of work and about a dozen presentations, BCC now has an official Drone/UAS Policy! Last night I presented my proposed policy to the Board of Trustees and last night and the board voted to approve the policy. I’m super pleased as this policy provides a framework of safety based on FAA regulations for us to operate on or off campus. It also gives the community a way to safely come to our Pittsfield campus and fly their own drones at the college if they so choose.
To fly here on campus, or to fly with college-owned equipment, individuals will need to fill out a Flight Request Application. The application will then be sent to a group of individuals, the UAS Review Committee, who will make sure that all the aspects of the policy have been accounted for within the flight plan. If the flight plan meets all the requirements, it will be approved. If not, then recommendations will be sent to the requestee on how to resubmit a new flight plan which meets the policy requirements.
This is incredibly exciting as now we can begin to incorporate drone imagery into our courses. I’ve even had a few folks show interest in training students to fly drones, which would ultimately require them to get their FAA 107 Certification. Another plan is to host a community info session on Drone safety.
Today the weather conditions were perfect for drone flying! The wind was almost nonexistent, it was slightly above freezing, and as an added bonus there was a good number of GPS satellites overhead. Check out the readout from my UAV Weather forecast app over on the side. You don’t get many days like this in January! This morning I sent some emails to BCC Security and the Pittsfield Airport and got the “OK” for a impromptu drone flight.
I also sent some emails to key faculty who might be interested and a few folks were free to join me this afternoon. Our goal was to take some video of the BCC nature trail from a new and different perspective, maybe see some animal tracks. Since there is still a good amount of snow cover a hand launch and landing was necessary, something I had been practicing over the holiday break (check out my previous videos.)
Below is the full video of the flight. We didn’t have any problems with birds or anything like I have in the past on campus which was great. A few ravens showed up as we were wrapping up (thanks for the identification Tim!) although we had already landed buy that time. The only thing to really be mindful of was the radio tower and it’s guide wires. I should have used the drone to measure the height of the radio tower for our notes going forward, something to do next time for sure. From playing the video back it seems to be 100 feet, however a precise measurement would be nice if for no other reason to set that +10 feet in the drone settings as the return to home altitude in case the drone looses signal with the remote, something I have yet to experience but still try to plan for.
One of our next goals is to make a full 3D map of this are of the BCC Nature Trail and having this first video as a reference might come in handy. If anyone wants a copy of the original full quality video just reach out and let me know. I’m looking forward to the next on-campus flight!
In my news feed this morning were several articles about Oculus doing away with the Oculus Go. It’s a bit of a bummer, as I have 5 of these units in my office for use at the college. The apps will continue to work, however at a certain point I’m sure that Oculus will stop creating updates and patches, and developers will likely stop making apps and software for the Go.
I can totally see why they did this. As the articles explain the Oculus Quest is killing it, last I knew it was so popular it’s still on back order. The Quest is a fantastic piece of hardware and I rarely use the Go anymore now that I have a Quest to experiment with. Overall this is a good sign of progress in VR, older technology being lapped by the new. Perhaps we will see more options for the Quest, or even an updated model.
Part of me was thinking that this could be a good opportunity to buy up Go’s cheap — but I really don’t have any specific uses for it. The VirZOOM equipment I use for the exercise bike also works with the Quest, although the Go is really all that’s needed. In fact, visiting their page just now it seems they have updated it with video and images using mainly the quest, you have to scroll down the page a bit before you see an image using the Go.
Honestly this is one of the things I enjoy about technology, there’s always something new going on!
Going forward I hope to write in this blog more regularly. I just went through my calendar and saved a bunch of spots for writing and posting for the next few weeks. I’ve found that scheduling time for writing really helps to make sure it happens.